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ICJ awards Pedra Branca's sovereignty to Singapore

721 Views 25 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  horlick97
23 May 08

THE HAGUE: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague in the Netherlands has awarded sovereignty over Pedra Branca island to Singapore, while the sovereignty of Middle Rocks has been awarded to Malaysia.

The world court delivered the judgement on Friday, after several rounds of written and oral pleadings by the two disputing countries. The ICJ last heard arguments from both sides in November 2007.

For Pedra Branca, ICJ's 16-member bench voted 12-4 in favour of Singapore. Ownership of Middle Rocks, a maritime feature 0.6 nautical miles from Pedra Branca, was voted 15-1 in favour of Malaysia.

As for the island's other maritime feature, South Ledge, Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, the Acting President of ICJ, said: "The Court has not been mandated by the parties to draw the line of delimitation with respect to the territorial waters of Malaysia and Singapore in the area in question.

"In these circumstances, the Court concludes that for the reasons explained above, sovereignty over South Ledge, as a low tide elevation, belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located."

The verdict brings to a close a 28-year row between the two neighbours. The dispute arose in 1980 when Singapore protested against a new Malaysian map of its maritime boundaries, which claimed the islet for itself.

Years of bilateral talks failed to resolve the matter and the parties agreed to seek the intervention of the UN court.

Pedra Branca, which Malaysia calls Pulau Batu Puteh, is located some 24 nautical miles to the east of Singapore and it commands the entire eastern approach to the Singapore Strait, through which almost 900 ships pass daily.

Pedra Branca also houses the Horsburgh Lighthouse, the oldest feature on the island which was built by the British between 1847 and 1851.

Leaders from both Singapore and Malaysia had said they would accept the ICJ's decision and stressed that whichever way it went, it would not affect bilateral ties.

A joint technical committee has been set up to implement the terms of the judgement.

Dean of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Barry Desker, said the judgement indicates that Southeast Asia is moving to accept the broader norms of international law.

He added that it augurs well for the dispute settlement mechanism of the ASEAN Charter and will set precedence for the way Singapore and Malaysia deal with their other outstanding bilateral issues.

Mr Desker said: "In the past, the tendency in ASEAN was to try and resolve issues purely by mediation or negotiations between two parties. The result was that issues or disputes between parties in the region tended to go on and on without completion, without successful negotiation.

"I think we are now moving in the direction of accepting a turn to international law – a willingness to accept international arbitration and this bodes well for issues in which there are bilateral differences."

Mr Desker also described the verdict as a "win-win" outcome for both sides because no party can claim it has won everything.

Moving forward, he said the technical committees of both countries will need to put into action the decision of the International Court of Justice. These include working out the necessary protocols to ensure the navigation safety of fishing vessels and pleasure crafts around Pedra Branca.
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I thought so man! i think it is fair for both of them.
Amazing!The gods are favouring us.We are so lucky.:cheers:

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The result was obvious from day one. The one that started this whole thing ought to be very ashamed.
The lighthouse being the oldest should be gazetted for conservation, and maybe featured on stamps.

It was already obvious that the lighthouse was operating in conjunction with shipping towards the Straits of was never about the rocks and other spits of rock IMO. It is really about Pedra Branca :)
Who's water is South Ledge sitting on?

ICJ say South Ledge belong to the country's water it is sitting on.

It belong to Indonesia?
Not Indonesia....if it would get much more complicated!
Who's water is South Ledge sitting on?

ICJ say South Ledge belong to the country's water it is sitting on.

It belong to Indonesia?
South Ledge can either belong in the territorial waters of Pedra Branca (Singapore-owned) or the territorial waters of Middle Rocks (Malaysia-owned). This had nothing to do with Indonesia. The ownership of South Ledge cannot be decided by the ICJ because it's mission is not to determine the exact borders of the territorial waters in that area but to determine ownership of the main island of Pedra Branca.

See the ICJ report for more info:
now singapore canot simply reclaim the land around pedra branca.

if could have done so if it was awarded all the islands.
now singapore canot simply reclaim the land around pedra branca.

if could have done so if it was awarded all the islands.
I'm sure it would be worked out where the water territorial borders of each state would be. When that's done, we could reclaim Pedra Branca right to the edge of its territorial waters and build Casino No.3 there. :lol:
Johor Member of Parliament Does Not Want Recurrence Of Pulau Batu Puteh Issue

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 (Bernama) -- Pontian Member of Parliament, Ahmad Maslan, does not want a similar situation to occur following Malaysia's loss of sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh as decided by the International Court of Justice recently.

On that note, he urged the government to study all aspects of the law so that the island located about five kilometres from Pontian, Johor remains Malaysian property.

The island has a lighthouse that is administered by Singapore.

Ahmad said according to Wisma Putra, based on a historical agreement signed in the 1800s, that as long as the lighthouse was used it would remain Singaporean property.

"The question is whether the lighthouse is still being used as it is from the past era. We now have the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine that ships do not hit corals, small islands and other obstructions.

"I am also voicing the worries of Pontian residents who do not want the Pulau Batu Puteh incident to be repeated," Ahmad told reporters at the parliament lobby here Monday.

He said until now, there had been no claims made including by Singapore on the ownership of Pulau Pisang.

As such, Ahmad said the island should be developed quickly and the lighthouse there should not be left to be as there were worries that a claim on its ownership might arise as in the case of Pulau Batu Puteh in 1980.

He called on the government to have a programme to develop Pulau Pisang to ensure the country's sovereignty over the island as well as to benefit the local people.

At the same time the government must study ways to take over the administration of the lighthouse on the island, he said.

Ahmad said the step was important as the island had similar historical aspects as Pulau Batu Puteh and if left without development, be it by the federal or state government, it could lead to another overlapping claim.
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Ministry can help take over lighthouse on Pulau Pisang


PETALING JAYA: The Foreign Ministry will negotiate with all parties concerned if Johor is interested in developing Pulau Pisang, said Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

The Foreign Minister said there was no question that the history and ownership of the 154ha island was under Johor although the lighthouse was currently manned by four Singaporean guards.

Johor and the British government signed a treaty in 1900, which gave ownership of the island to Johor and allowed the British to build the lighthouse, which guides ships into Singaporean Straits.

“Pulau Pisang’s situation is different from Batu Puteh. Some Johoreans are angry that we have not taken over the lighthouse.

“There is a big possibility to do this but all this while, there has been no application asking for the lighthouse to be taken over by Malaysia.

“If we don’t ask, how to give?” said Dr Rais last night when appearing on RTM1’s talk show Bersemuka Dengan Media: Isu Semasa dan Polisi Negara.

The Star’s assistant news editor Paul Gabriel and New Straits Times’ foreign editor Kamarulzaman Mohd Salleh fielded questions to Dr Rais together with the host, Sabaruddin Ahmad Sabri.

Dr Rais said the agreement between Johor and British could be re-looked and a diplomatic note could be sent to Singapore to express Malaysia’s intentions over the lighthouse.

Over the last few days, politicians and the public had suggested that the Government take over the operation of the lighthouse to ensure the island did not suffer the same fate as Batu Puteh.

On May 23, the International Court of Justice awarded Batu Puteh to Singapore partly because it had consistently shown acts of sovereignty over the tiny island for more than 100 years compared to Malaysia which showed no action for over a century.

Malaysia, however, was awarded Middle Rocks while the ownership of South Ledge was undetermined.

“Our win on Middle Rocks is significant as something we have never touched for hundreds of years is now ours. We need to appreciate this,” he added.

Dr Rais said one must not react emotionally to the Batu Puteh decision without knowing the facts or knowledge of international laws.

“What will happen if all three went to Singapore? We didn’t win all or lose all. It is not right to say we didn’t win as Middle Rock is very strategic for future research and monitoring,” he said.

Dr Rais said Singapore had shown positive attitude towards the joint technical committee, which would look into matters of territorial waters and rights of fishermen when carrying out ICJ’s decision.
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World Court awards contested island of Pedra Branca to Singapore

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The International Court of Justice on Friday awarded Singapore sovereignty over a disputed island hosting a strategic lighthouse at the eastern entrance of the Singapore Straits.

The lighthouse on the granite rock has been a landmark for 150 years and a beacon of safety for hundreds of ships passing daily.

The U.N.'s highest court, however, gave Malaysia ownership of a smaller uninhabited outcropping. Sovereignty over a third disputed cluster of rocks was to be determined later by the countries when they sort our their territorial waters, the ruling said.

The three tiny rock clusters have been the scene of recorded shipwrecks for nearly 500 years, and now guard the entranceway to one of the world's busiest waterways used by some 900 ships daily.

Malaysia had disputed Singapore's rule of the two-acre (0.8 hectare) island listed on most maps as Pedra Branca and known by Malaysia as Pulau Batu Puteh. It is about 40 miles (65 kms) from Singapore, but only seven miles (10 kms) off the Malaysian coast.

Singapore, a former British colony, claimed it inherited the island which it said was ceded to the British in the mid-1840s to build the lighthouse.

Malaysia said the sultan of Johor, whose ownership of the island was recognized as early as the 1500s, had given the British permission to build and operate the lighthouse but had never given up sovereignty.

The 16-member court agreed that Johor, now a Malaysian state, had historical ownership, but pointed to conflicting evidence about whether it had legally transferred sovereignty.

It ruled in favor of Singapore's argument that it had exercised sovereign powers over the rock since the Horsburgh lighthouse opened 1851, with no protest from Malaysia until 30 years ago.

Both sides said they accepted the ruling.

"It is a good example to the region of how such disputes can be resolved in a peaceful and amicable manner," said Singapore's deputy prime minister, S. Jayakumar.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim called it a win-win ruling since each side won a partial victory. Resolving such disputes through the rule of law, he said, "will make the world safer."

Yatim said the two countries would establish a committee to determine ownership of the third island, South Ledge, which lies in overlapping territorial waters.

The dispute erupted after Malaysia published a map in 1979 referring to the lighthouse island as its territory for the first time in modern history. Singapore protested, and the argument became a diplomatic irritant until they agreed in 2003 to submit the case to the U.N. court, also known as the world court.

The court examined treaties and documents dating back to 1824 governing an area hotly contested between the superpowers of the day, Britain and Holland.

But its final decision, by a 12-4 majority, rested largely on Singapore's consistent conduct over the last 100 years.

It took charge of investigating accidents in the surrounding waters, installed naval communications equipment in 1977 and published a series of six maps from 1962 to 1975 that showed Pulau Batu as Singaporean territory. Malaysia did not protest the maps.

The judges also gave weight to a 1953 exchange of letters between Singapore and Johor, then part of the Malaysian federation which also was a British colony. When Singapore asked for information on the island's status, Johor's state secretary replied that his government "does not claim ownership."

In its oral presentations last year, Malaysia representative Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad argued that Singapore's claim had "implications for the territorial and maritime stability of the straits," and that resolving the case was crucial for maritime and environmental safety.
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Finally the truth is out why we fought so hard for the little rock known as Pedra Branca!

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Odd as it may sound, DRSG's picture is definitely one of the reasons. Not ERP per say, but the use of our port and our sea space.

Does owning Pedra Branca actually give us more space to reclaim land and in doing so, a bigger anchorage for our ports?
sigh.. being singaporean, i was hoping that the rocks will go to malaysia..

otherwise more corals, fishes and marine life will die..

somemore got so much talk about reclaiming more land...

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